HOBSON’S CHOICE: WHEN THERE IS NO CHOICE AT ALL



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HOBSON’S CHOICE: WHEN THERE IS NO CHOICE AT ALL



Making choices is necessary, but not always easy. Many English expressions tell about this difficulty. One of these expressions is Hobson’s choice. It often is used to describe a difficult choice. But that is not what it really means. Its real meaning is to have no choice at all.

The Hobson in the expression was Thomas Hobson. Mister Hobson owned a stable of horses in Cambridge, England. Mister Hobson often rented horses to the students at Cambridge University. But, he did not really trust them to take good care of the horses. So, he had a rule that prevented the students from riding his best horses. They could take the horse that was nearest the stable door. Or, they could not take any horse at all. Thus, a Hobson’s choice was really no choice.

Another expression for having no real choice is between a rock and a hard place. It is often used to describe a difficult situation with few choices, none of them good. For example, your boss may ask you to work late. But you have plans to go to a movie with your girlfriend. If you refuse to work, your boss gets angry. But if you do not go to the movies with your girlfriend, she gets angry. So what do you do? You are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Another expression, between the devil and the deep blue sea, also gives you a choice between two equally dangerous things. Its meaning seems clear. You can choose the devil and his burning fires of hell. Or, you can choose to drown in the sea. Some word experts say the expression comes from the days of wooden ships. The devilis a word for a seam between two pieces of wood along the water-line of a ship. If the seam or crack between the two pieces of wood begins to leak, then a sailor must fix it. The sailor ordered to make the repairs was in a dangerous situation. He was hanging over the side of the ship, working between the devil and the deep blue sea.

There is still another expression that describes a situation with only bad choices, being on the horns of a dilemma. The dictionary says a dilemma is a situation in which you must make a decision about two equally balanced choices. When your dilemma has horns, a choice becomes impossible. When you are on the horns of a dilemma, no matter which horn you choose, something bad will happen.

 

8. So, making a choice in business is not so easy process, even if you have enough money for starting your business. Moreover sometimes it is extremely difficult for entrepreneur to decide where should he/she invest the money in order to return them? What is your opinion subject to this problem? Prove it, please. Here is a short story of the American writer Kate Chopin that illustrates the difficulty of making a choice. Read and translate this text:

 

A PAIR OF SILK STOCKING

Little Missus Sommers one day found herself the unexpected owner of fifteen dollars. It seemed to her a very large amount of money. The way it filled up her worn money holder gave her a feeling of importance that she had not enjoyed for years. The question of investment was one she considered carefully. For a day or two she walked around in a dreamy state as she thought about her choices. She did not wish to act quickly and do anything she might regret. During the quiet hours of the night she laid awake considering ideas. A dollar or two could be added to the price she usually paid for her daughter Janie's shoes. This would guarantee they would last a great deal longer than usual. She would buy cloth for new shirts for the boys. Her daughter Mag should have another dress. And still there would be enough left for new stockings - two pairs per child. What time that would save her in always repairing old stockings! The idea of her little family looking fresh and new for once in their lives made her restless with excitement.

The neighbors sometimes talked of the "better days" that little Missus Sommers had known before she had ever thought of being Missus Sommers. She herself never looked back to her younger days. She had no time to think about the past. The needs of the present took all her energy.

Missus Sommers knew the value of finding things for sale at reduced prices. She could stand for hours making her way little by little toward the desired object that was selling below cost. She could push her way if need be. But that day she was tired and a little bit weak. She had eaten a light meal? - No! She thought about her day. Between getting the children fed and the house cleaned, and preparing herself to go shopping, she had forgotten to eat at all!

When she arrived at the large department store, she sat in front of an empty counter. She was trying to gather strength and courage to push through a mass of busy shoppers. She rested her hand upon the counter. She wore no gloves. She slowly grew aware that her hand had felt something very pleasant to touch. She looked down to see that her hand lay upon a pile of silk stockings. A sign nearby announced that they had been reduced in price. A young girl who stood behind the counter asked her if she wished to examine the silky leg coverings.

She smiled as if she had been asked to inspect diamond jewelry with the aim of purchasing it. But she went on feeling the soft, costly items. Now she used both hands, holding the stockings up to see the light shine through them. Two red marks suddenly showed on her pale face. She looked up at the shop girl. "Do you think there is any size eights-and-a-half among these?" There were a great number of stockings in her size. Missus Sommers chose a black pair and looked at them closely. "A dollar and ninety-eight cents," she said aloud. "Well, I will buy this pair." She handed the girl a five dollar bill and waited for her change and the wrapped box with the stockings. What a very small box it was! It seemed lost in her worn old shopping bag.

Missus Sommers then took the elevator which carried her to an upper floor into the ladies' rest area. In an empty corner, she replaced her cotton stockings for the new silk ones.

For the first time she seemed to be taking a rest from the tiring act of thought. She had let herself be controlled by some machine-like force that directed her actions and freed her of responsibility. How good was the touch of the silk on her skin! She felt like lying back in the soft chair and enjoying the richness of it. She did for a little while. Then she put her shoes back on and put her old stockings into her bag. Next, she went to the shoe department, sat down and waited to be fitted.

The young shoe salesman was unable to guess about her background. He could not resolve her worn, old shoes with her beautiful, new stockings. She tried on a pair of new boots. She held back her skirts and turned her feet one way and her head another way as she looked down at the shiny, pointed boots. Her foot and ankle looked very lovely. She could not believe that they were a part of herself. She told the young salesman that she wanted an excellent and stylish fit. She said she did not mind paying extra as long as she got what she desired.

After buying the new boots, she went to the glove department. It was a long time since Missus Sommers had been fitted with gloves. When she had bought a pair they were always "bargains," so cheap that it would have been unreasonable to have expected them to be fitted to her hand. Now she rested her arm on the counter where gloves were for sale. A young shop girl drew a soft, leather glove over Missus Sommers's hand. She smoothed it down over the wrist and buttoned it neatly. Both women lost themselves for a second or two as they quietly praised the little gloved hand.

There were other places where money might be spent. A store down the street sold books and magazines. Missus Sommers bought two costly magazines that she used to read back when she had been able to enjoy other pleasant things. She lifted her skirts as she crossed the street. Her new stockings and boots and gloves had worked wonders for her appearance. They had given her a feeling of satisfaction, a sense of belonging to the well-dressed crowds. She was very hungry. Another time she would have ignored the desire for food until reaching her own home. But the force that was guiding her would not permit her to act on such a thought.

There was a restaurant at the corner. She had never entered its doors. She had sometimes looked through the windows. She had noted the white table cloths, shining glasses and waiters serving wealthy people. When she entered, her appearance created no surprise or concern, as she had half feared it might. She seated herself at a small table. A waiter came at once to take her order. She ordered six oysters, a chop, something sweet, a glass of wine and a cup of coffee. While waiting to be served she removed her gloves very slowly and set them beside her. Then she picked up her magazine and looked through it.

It was all very agreeable. The table cloths were even more clean and white than they had seemed through the window. And the crystal drinking glasses shined even more brightly. There were ladies and gentlemen, who did not notice her, lunching at the small tables like her own. A pleasing piece of music could be heard, and a gentle wind was blowing through the window. She tasted a bite, and she read a word or two and she slowly drank the wine. She moved her toes around in the silk stockings. The price of it all made no difference. When she was finished, she counted the money out to the waiter and left an extra coin on his tray. He bowed to her as if she were a princess of royal blood.

There was still money in her purse, and her next gift to herself presented itself as a theater advertisement. When she entered the theater, the play had already begun. She sat between richly dressed women who were there to spend the day eating sweets and showing off their costly clothing. There were many others who were there only to watch the play. It is safe to say there was no one there who had the same respect that Missus Sommers did for her surroundings. She gathered in everything - stage and players and people - in one wide sensation. She laughed and cried at the play. She even talked a little with the women. One woman wiped her eyes with a small square of lace and passed Missus Sommers her box of candy. The play was over, the music stopped, the crowd flowed outside. It was like a dream ended. Missus Sommers went to wait for the cable car. A man with sharp eyes sat opposite her. It was hard for him to fully understand what he saw in her expression. In truth, he saw nothing - unless he was a magician. Then he would sense her heartbreaking wish that the cable car would never stop anywhere, but go on and on with her forever.

Retell the story after reading and nominate the main idea of the author. What was the choice of Missus Sommers? Was it right or wrong? What would you do in a similar situation? Imagine you have $ 14 billion in “your pocket”. In which sphere of business activities in Sakhalin would you invest such funds? Prove your choice please.

 

9. Which factors of production (resources) do you know and how do they influence on the company’s activity within a private enterprise system?

10. Explain the role of natural resources (mineral deposits) within a process of business activities. How do the Acts of God and other natural cataclysms such as drought influence on natural resource depletion? Read and translate the following broadcast transcript and be ready to discuss it from the position of economy and linguistics:

 

ENVIRONMENT

A drought across southern China and Southeast Asia has brought the Mekong River to its lowest level in 50 years. The drought has led to debate over the vital resource and the effects that economic development, especially dam construction, may have on the river flow. In northern Thailand, the wide Mekong River is known as Mother River. It travels from headwaters in the Tibetan plains over 4,000 kilometers to the South China Sea. But this year, the river has fallen to its lowest level in decades. Julian Wright manages a guest house on the Mekong River's banks at Khon Kaen in northern Thailand. Wright says there are more sand banks visible in the river than in past years.

"I couldn't pronounce it being absolutely the lowest but it's certainly the lowest I've ever seen. The hopper that collects water from the town might find itself beached, then we might find we have a running water problem," he said. The Mekong runs through China's southern Yunnan Province, through parts of Burma, Thailand and Laos, and then moves through Cambodia and Vietnam before reaching the sea.

Severe Water Shortages

This year, the dry season in Southeast Asia has been far drier than normal. And the southern Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan are suffering a severe drought. Over 20 million people face water shortages with some 6.5 million hectares of crops affected.

"This is a one in 50-year occurrence - with a return period of 50 years - so it's quite severe," says Ian Makin, an engineer and senior water resources management specialist with the Asian Development Bank. "Now the problem comes is that in the dry season most people that are cropping in the Mekong Basin are using pumps and when the water level drops further than normal they can't let water out into their fields and they're struggling to keep the crop alive."

In towns, water resource officials have asked communities to conserve water. Barges and ferries normally plying the river have been forced to halt services, because in some areas, the river is nearly dry. And in low-lying areas in Vietnam's fertile Mekong delta, the drought means salty ocean water can move onto farm land, damaging the soil.

Damming the Mekong River

Environmental and rights organizations in Thailand say dams on waterways in southern China contribute to the river's low levels.

The Save the Mekong Coalition, an alliance of environmental groups, criticizes China's management of the river and dams built in China.

"It's not a natural drought - but it's also the impact from the large scale infrastructure which is the dam upstream and the fishermen and farmers have been suffering from the change of the eco-system of the Mekong River very much. And they suspect that this is because of the way the damming upstream controls the water flow," said Pianporn Deetes, a coalition spokeswoman.

China has completed the Xiaowan hydroelectric dam, the second largest hydro-electric station in the country, on the upper reaches of the Mekong. Eight others are being built in Yunnan Province. Jeremy Bird heads the Mekong River Commission, made up of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. He dismisses concerns about the dams and blames the drought for the low water levels.

"Looking at the flow records that we have, we see no reason to suggest any operation of those projects upstream has made the situation worse. In fact, there's some evidence to suggest that if those dams had not been in place then the lower water levels may have been experienced even earlier in January," said Bird.

Possible Water Conflicts

Sensitivities over the Mekong's flows have led to talks between China and Thailand on how the dams may affect water levels. Chinese officials reject claims the dams contribute to low water levels. Early next month, China will attend a summit of leaders from Mekong River nations in Bangkok. The leaders hope to find ways to better manage the river.

There are fears that rising populations will mean increased use of the Mekong for drinking water, farming, fishing and transportation. Smith Dhanrmasaroja, head of Thailand's National Disaster Warning Center, thinks Southeast Asia may eventually face conflicts over water.

"Of course they will fight. Each country they will fight for water. We will have a war, a water war in this region and people when they need to water to drink you know they will fight for everything. So conflict between Lao, Thai, Myanmar, Kampuchea (Cambodia), that thing is going to happen - we will wait and see," he said.

In a report released this week, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific expressed similar concerns about water security in the region. The report warns that water shortages in the region are likely to be exacerbated by climate change.

 

11. What do you know about Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) under the frameworks of Sakhalin oil and gas projects? How does it regulate the relationships between the investors subject to the mineral deposit distribution? Read and translate the following abstract from Law on PSA and be ready to discuss it from the positions of entrepreneurship and linguistics:



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